Business

STI slides again as year-end fatigue sets in

Index's downward movement continues four-day losing streak and erases mild gains made during intra-day trading

The Straits Times Index fell again yesterday, dipping 10.35 points, or 0.3 per cent, to finish at 3,404.47.

While that is not much to weep over in the grand scheme of things, the index's downward movement continued a four-day losing streak - and erased the mild gains made during intra-day trading.

Across the board, all the hullabaloo in rah-rah United States equity markets was not enough to stir the market here, with just 1.62 billion shares, worth $978.4 million, changing hands for the day. And losers outnumbered gainers by a depressing ratio of 224 to 173.

CMC Markets sales trader Oriano Lizza suggested - perhaps comfortingly - in a morning note that "it might be a case of the mild exhaustion after a stellar year for the benchmark".

In any case, Rowsley shares were churning like a witch's cauldron, with 312.7 million shares moving on the news that the company sought to pick up magnate Peter Lim's Thomson Medical healthcare businesses.

The counter - the day's most heavily traded - closed down by 0.6 Singapore cent, or 4.41 per cent, to $0.13.

The second-most heavily traded stock was semiconductor equipment maker Asti Holdings, which shed 0.4 Singapore cent, or 4.55 per cent, to 8.4 Singapore cents, on a volume of 46.51 million shares.

The group had said on Monday that it is in talks to sell several wholly owned units to Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment for around $100 million.

Another hot stock was Thai Beverage Public, which began trading again after the market opened.

The food-and-drink group had taken a one-day break to wait out the results of state-owned Vietnamese brewer Sabeco's share auction.

But ThaiBev's 109 trillion dong (S$6.5 billion) winning bid may have left a bad taste in some investors' mouths. The stock price dipped by $0.02, or 2.06 per cent, to $0.95, on a turnover of 23.55 million shares.

Meanwhile, LifeBrandz Group lost 0.7 Singapore cent, or 20.59 per cent, to finish at 2.7 Singapore cents on a turnover of nearly 14.73 million shares.

The company has proposed a renounceable non-underwritten rights issue that is projected to raise estimated net proceeds of about $5.7 million, issuing more than 388 million new ordinary shares in the company at 1.5 Singapore cents apiece.

And again a lead weight on the index was telco Singtel, which dropped once more to end lower by $0.03, or 0.82 per cent, at $3.61, with 25.62 million shares changing hands.

This is not to say that all was doom and gloom on the bourse.

City Developments Limited (CDL) added $0.11, or 0.9 per cent, to $12.37.

Chairman Kwek Leng Beng has written a letter urging Millennium & Copthorne Hotels shareholders to accept CDL's higher offer of 620 pence (S$11.18) a share, as the property developer seeks to consolidate its stake in the hospitality group.

Malaysian glove manufacturer Top Glove Corporation was another gainer, adding $0.15, or 6.52 per cent, to $2.45.

The company had briefly halted trading over lunch, to announce that first-quarter net profit shot up by 43.8 per cent on the previous year for the three months to Nov 30.

Still, across the region, Asian markets were once more a mixed bag, in spite of the frenzy on Wall Street.

Hong Kong did put on 0.7 per cent, with Shanghai up by an auspicious 0.88 per cent. But Tokyo closed lower by 0.15 per cent and Seoul by 0.13 per cent.

For full listings of SGX prices, go to http://btd.sg/BTmkts